Professional development for teachers is the start, middle and finish of quality teaching.
So said Dapto High School principal Andrew FitzSimons in response to a new report calling for major changes in NSW public schools.
The ‘Understanding Work in Schools’ report by University of Sydney researcher Susan McGrath-Chant was highlighted at the NSW Teachers Federation’s annual conference in Sydney on Monday morning.
One of its key findings was that teachers were working an average of 54 hours per week (43 hours at school and 11 hours at home) due to the increasing administrative demands on them to meet compliance standards.
This final report stated that teachers wanted the NSW Department of Education to give them more time to plan lessons and attend to the needs of their students instead of ticking boxes and filling-in forms.
It followed a previous report from the University of Sydney and Curtin University which identified that teachers were drowning in a “tsunami of paperwork”.
At the time NSW Primary Principals Association president Phil Seymour said education authorities needed to look at the increased workload they were pushing onto principals and teachers.
“The increased amount of workload relating to paperwork and data collection is taking teachers from their prime role of teaching,” the Hayes Park Public School principal said.
In the latest report, one teacher said :“the school term has become dominated by collecting data – pre-testing, observation, post testing results, and comparisons”.
NSWTF deputy president Joan Lemaire said for the first time NSW teachers have had their say about what they value most about the work they do.
“The teaching profession has said their most important work is getting to know students, teaching them in a way that supports their learning needs and engages them in the joy of learning,” she said.
But Ms Lemaire said the Local Schools Local Decisions policy has failed the promise to ‘place students at the centre of all decisions’.
“This policy has imposed new and excessive administrative, compliance and data collection requirements seen by the majority of teachers as taking up too much time and having no particular value.
“Even worse, it diverts their focus away from students.
“Teachers want to reduce or eliminate the administrative, compliance and data collection requirements which create obstacles to teaching and learning.”